Harold Ivor James, BSc (Wales)
STAFF 1930–1949

H.I. James, 1947

H.I. James, in 1947

Harold Ivor James was the School’s second1 teacher of Botany. He was born in the Abergavenny area in 1908, the fifth son of Herbert James and his wife Diana, née Bishop. Harold’s father eventually progressed to become a guard with the GWR, and his two grandfathers were also railway workers. The family moved west shortly after Harold was born, with his elementary education taking place in Swansea 1915–18, and Llandovery 1918–19. He then spent the years 1919–26 at Llandovery County School, taking his Highers in Botany, Chemistry and French. Entering, what was then, the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1926, (now Cardiff University), he took a 1st Class Honours degree in Botany in 1929. He stayed an additional year to gain his Teaching Diploma, having done teaching practice at Pontypridd Intermediate School.

He commenced his duties at Aberdare Boys County School in September 1930, teaching chemistry, botany and zoology. Initially he lodged at Bronant, Abernant Road, but very soon took up residence in Park Grove, not far from the School. He acquired the nickname ‘Jimmy’ used unofficially by the boys at school. With Jimmy’s appointment, and after a break of almost twenty years, Higher Certificate botany and zoology returned to the curriculum and the first qualifications in these subjects appeared in the 1932 examination results.

Jimmy can be seen in some of the photographs on this website, including a photo2 taken circa 1933 when he was in charge of the Ramblers Club. In Aberdare he took an interest in scouting, Toc-H and the Aberdare Gardeners’ Society.

In 1934, he married Doris Kathleen Davis in Walsall, Staffordshire.

Like some others on the staff, WW2 temporarily interrupted his life as a teacher at the Trecynon School, for at the end of January 1942, he joined H.M. Forces3. After serving in India and Burma, he was back at school in November 1945, but after a further four years, he resigned and departed at the end of the Christmas term 1949. He took up a new post in 1950 at Dixie Grammar School, Market Bosworth in Leicestershire – now, (since 1987), an independent school.

When Jimmy James left ABGS, the Aberdare Leader published a brief report that can be seen here.

Jimmy lived a long life, and passed away aged 87 in 1996 in Warwickshire. His wife died a few months later.

David Daniel Davies4, (aka Dai-cube, a pupil at ABCS 1926–34, and a pupil of Jimmy James), took over biological subjects at the school in January 1950.



  1. The first teacher of Botany at the school was Albert William Elliott. Appointed in 1906, he was later seconded to Aberdare Girls’ Intermediate School when it opened in Plasdraw in 1913. This enabled the girls, who were moved to Plasdraw from the mixed Trecynon School, to keep their botany teacher.

    Mr Elliott returned to the boys’ school in Trecynon in 1917, but strangely he did not teach biological subjects to the upper school. Instead he took over chemistry teaching. Evidence from the School Certificate & Higher Certificate examination results of the boys’ school, indicate botany and zoology were absent from the curriculum for eighteen years until Mr James arrived in 1930. Meanwhile at Plasdraw, Miss Alice Jane Prothero had been appointed in 1916 to teach biological subjects. Consequently, very soon after her arrival, both Zoology and Botany Higher Certificates were gained by the girls of the school.
    Miss Prothero can be seen in her laboratory here,
    Mr Elliott can be seen with a chemistry class here,
    A.W. Elliott’s grandson, the late Prof. Raymond Elliott Thomas, has an entry in the Former Pupils section of this website.
  2. The Rambling Club photo can be seen at the following link,
  3. During the absence of Jimmy James due to war service, biology teaching at the school was in the very capable hands of Miss Katherine (Katie) Davies. Past student Lyndon Harries recalls this period and Katie’s later life, at
  4. After serving in H.M. Forces during the War, D.D. Davies joined St Julian’s High School, Newport, in 1945. He commenced his teaching duties at Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School in 1950 and stayed there until he retired in 1979.